[dropcap size=big]F[/dropcap]BI agents on Wednesday raided the home and offices of L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar, a surprise move taking place after a city special investigation was launched to probe harassment and retaliation accusations regarding Huizar, and just days after a second of two lawsuitswas filed by former staffers alleging he directed illegal activities.
Huizar’s wife was seen coming out of their home in Boyle Heights after the initial search there, and then she left the area. While neighbors, activists and news crews congregated outside, an agent wearing an FBI T-shirt got out of his black SUV and led a dog up the stairs and into the councilman’s home.
The search dog at Huizar’s house is trained to sniff out electronic media, such as thumb drives or cellular telephones, that may be hidden. Watch a local news report on the raid below:
More than 15 people wearing FBI jackets were viewed heading in and out of Huizar’s fourth floor office, including an FBI photographer. A city employee who asked to remain unnamed because they lacked authorization to talk described the scene, according to the L.A. Times.
It is still not clear what the federal agents were looking for because the warrant was under a court-ordered seal, authorities reportedly said. When L.A. Taco reached out to Huizar, a spokesperson forwarded all of our questions to Huizar’s attorney Stephen Kaufman, who also did not respond to inquiries.
“The FBI is conducting a lawful warrant,” said FBI Special Agent David Nanz, who was supervising the search warrant at Huizar’s City Hall office. Nanz is a financial crimes specialist with the FBI and previously served as chief of the FBI’s Economic Crimes Unit at FBI Headquarters in Washington, DC. He declined to comment to ABC7 on what the agents were looking for, saying only that “the warrant was under seal.”
[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he scene outside Huizar’s field office in Eagle Rock was eerily peaceful. The lights were on and someone could be seen inside, but no one would answer the door to the historic Eagle Rock City Hall building where his field office is located.
A woman entering the office, who described herself as a Huizar supporter, said she was visiting the field office to talk about an upcoming holiday parade in December she was working on with Huizar and his staff.
“This FBI raid is ridiculous,” said Yolanda Nogueira. “I think the whole investigation is BS. Jose has been great for our community and I don’t believe what his former staffers were saying.”
A young woman entering the office shortly afterward declined to speak with L.A. Taco, only saying her first name, Maria, and that she isn’t a staff member but a friend of Huizar.
Huizar described the allegations as a 'political hit job.'
Pauline Medina, his former office manager, has accused Huizar of using public monies for personal expenses in a lawsuit filed last month. In addition, Mayra Alvarez, his former executive assistant and scheduler, accused the councilman in her separate lawsuit of making staffers alter his official calendar to disguise the nature of meetings with developers and lobbyists ahead of a public records request by the L.A. Times.
Both women have said Huizar retaliated against them after they told his chief of staff, Paul Habib, they were aware of an extramarital affair the councilman was reportedly engaged in. Huizar has dismissed the allegations within the lawsuits, calling the claim by Alvarez “nonsense” and describing the allegations by Medina as a “political hit job.”
Huizar was elected to the city council in 2005 and faces term limits in two years. But he has been working to elect his wife, Richelle Huizar, to his seat in 2020. He represents such neighborhoods as Boyle Heights, parts of Highland Park and Eagle Rock and downtown L.A.
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